Kathy and I have been traveling for eight months now. We’ve been extremely blessed with drama free experiences, good travel health and very few problems. We’ve learned a lot about what works for us, what we love and what we prefer to avoid.
Economy Class Train Travel
While traveling through Indonesia we missed a connection to the “first class” train we had reservations for. An economy class train was leaving the station soon. Rather than wait a whole day for the next first class train we decided to hop on this really low priced train. I remember thinking “how bad can it be?”. Well, it was pretty bad. Economy trains make more stops so the anticipated 4 hour ride turned into 8. The seats were uncushioned, hard benches. We had to sit 3 across where even 2 people would have been uncomfortable. There was no air conditioning. I was pretty miserable for most of the trip. The upside was we were sitting with very kind and helpful local people. Locals travel this way all the time, it is not for me for long trips. The experience helped me see how privileged we are and also what I’m willing to pay more for. This Uh Oh! was a great learning experience.
Georgetown, Penang Island, Malaysia
When we first got off the boat, landing in Singapore, we moved pretty quickly. We spent a day and a night in Singapore, 4 days in Kualu Lumpur and 5 days in Georgetown. Neither of us were crazy about Georgetown. We had yet to learn the value of slower travel, longer stays. I’m really glad we made a decision to visit Georgetown again. Exploring this lovely island town a second time, for a whole month was a wonderful experience. Now Georgetown is one of our favorite places, it’s even on our short list for a permanent retirement home.
Tiger Kingdom, Chiang Mai, Thailand
We visited the Tiger Kingdom on our first visit to Chiang Mai on a whim. We did no research. We just hopped into the cab of a friendly driver for what I thought would be a pleasant adventure. Had we done more investigation we would have easily seen that there is a lot of controversy about this place. Mistreated, drugged tigers are kept in small cages. Tourists (including Kathy and I) lie on, pet and take lots of pictures with these beautiful animals. I wanted to believe what the keepers say: that the cats are not drugged, that they grew up with people and are thus friendly. But I left with the nagging feelings that those things are not true. I have decided to never again visit attractions involving animals without first making sure the animals are being treated humanely.
Home free, serendipitous travel has great opportunities to find out more about oneself. I’ve learned that I like a certain level of comfort and am willing to pay for it; that staying long enough to get to know a place is best and that thorough research is a valuable tool in deciding where to visit.
What are some of your travel uh ohs, do-overs or never agains? Please share in our comments section. We love hearing from you!